Organic Semiconducting Luminophores for Near-Infrared Afterglow, Chemiluminescence, and Bioluminescence Imaging

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Original languageEnglish
Article number2106154
Journal / PublicationAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number46
Online published6 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2021


Optical imaging has played a pivotal role in deciphering in vivo bioinformatics but is limited by shallow penetration depth and poor imaging performance owing to interfering tissue autofluorescence induced by concurrent photoexcitation. The emergence of near-infrared (NIR) self-luminescence imaging independent of real-time irradiation has timely addressed these problems. There are two main kinds of self-luminescent agents, namely inorganic and organic luminophores. Inorganic luminophores usually suffer from long-term biotoxicity concerns resulting from potential heavy-metal ions leakage and nonbiodegradability, which hinders their further translational application. In contrast, organic luminophores, especially organic semiconducting luminophores (OSLs) with good biodegradable potential, tunable design, and outstanding optical properties, are preferred in biological applications. This review summarizes the recent progress of OSLs used in NIR afterglow, chemiluminescence, and bioluminescence imaging. Molecular manipulation and nanoengineering approaches of OSLs are discussed, with emphasis on strategies that can extend the emission wavelength from visible to NIR range and amplify luminescence signals. This review concludes with a discussion of current challenges and possible solutions of OSLs in the self-luminescence field.

Research Area(s)

  • afterglow imaging, bioluminescence imaging, chemiluminescence imaging, optical imaging, organic semiconducting luminophores